December – the last month of the year. It is usually the time where you find yourself reflecting on the 11 months prior. What accomplishments were made? Did you lose those 25 pounds you set out to lose at the beginning of the year? Did you go on that trip you had been meaning to take every year, but this…THIS was the year you would soak your toes into some much-needed vacation time. For me, this December was my absolute favorite month of 2017. It was the exclamation point at the end of a huge year of change for me. Taking giant leaps into the unknown. Embarking on a year-long journey just two months prior with complete strangers to places all over the globe which my feet had never stepped foot on and my eyes had never had the pleasure of gazing upon. Month three also happened to be located in Lisbon…which quickly stole a piece of my heart.
And here’s just a few (of the many) reasons why:
Acts of Inspiration:
I like to describe the overall architectural vibe as..comfortably grungy. The streets are alive with vibrantly painted historically crafted buildings and uniquely designed tilework. Even though the buildings are pressed tightly against each other, their unique styles had somewhat of a harmonious effect on my psyche. The city is built on top of 7 (or more) rolling hills that not only helped build some serious leg muscles but also had such an effect on how beautiful the architecture looked from each peak. I was also blown away by all of the graffiti/artwork that flooded the city. Around every corner I found myself saying “WOW, look at the artwork on the side of that building!” and could feel the subtle eye rolls happening from my fellow remotes from each repeating statement. But it was true! I was fascinated and intrigued by all of the unique perspectives each artist captured.
I was particularly intrigued and inspired by the culture within Lisbon. Being riverside meant plenty of fisherman/water enthusiasts and tourists along the banks. Growing up near a freshwater lake it felt like a little bit of home but on a much grander scale. The pace of life was calm and not rushed. Each morning on my walk to the gym I’d observe the streetside business’ and coffee shops where the local men tended to gather in the street in their chairs and watch the daily passerby. I became one of those daily visitors and we’d exchange a friendly smile and go about our days. I enjoyed getting lost and popping into the small shops which housed local artisans work and smelling the freshly baked pastries and loaves of bread just coming out of the oven. A local dish called Pastel de Nata was a dangerously delicious find that helped me grow more appreciative of those hills I had to work so hard to climb.
English was pretty prevalent and allowed a conversation to emerge amongst the locals and I. There was never a time or place that I felt unsafe. If anything I felt at home and welcomed among the community.
Since it was December, the Holiday season brought a lot of mixed emotions along with it. Sure, I missed my family and the traditions that went along with this time of year, but I was pleasantly surprised by how festive Lisbon was. From the music to the lights to the markets, the holiday spirit was felt and appreciated. The traditional food was also something I really enjoyed. The Portuguese take such pride in their bread, olive oil, seafood, and wine. You can taste the passion and love that went into everything they prepared.
Portugal is definitely a place that I would love to explore more of in the years to come. A part of what I love most about the Remote Year program is you get just a small taste of each location, which leaves more to be seen and explored when that itch to travel starts to reach the surface again.
TimeOut Market – TimeOut market had all of the variety of foods in a modern food court style setting. Fresh seafood, pastries, and desserts galore! We even got to take a cooking class where we created a local dish of seafood and rice with bread and olive oil, of course.
Surfing -It was my first attempt and though I wasn’t a natural, I did manage to make it up on the board twice! It is definitely harder than it looked and am looking forward to practicing more this year.
Jeeping along the Western most part of Europe – This will go down as one of my favorite days of Remote Year. Jeeps + Amazing Views + Great weather.
POP Cereal Cafe- One of my favorite things in life is cereal. I don’t discriminate either. So finding out that Lisbon had a cafe where you can concoct your own cereal mixture was like finding out you won the lottery. Needless to say, I went more than once!
Oceanarium- I’d never been to an Oceanarium, so getting to see all of the creatures of the sea was amazing and the design of the exhibit was amazing as well.
Positive Impact – Towards the end of the month we got to help children create their own cameras from sardine cans so that they could express their creativity through picture taking. It was so amazing to watch how excited they were to create art from something they built with their own two hands.